While not every issue the Sonoma City Council has voted on has met with universal approval, most citizens would agree that the myriad issues managed by our thoughtful elected City Council and appointed Planning Commission is preferable to the uncontrolled chaos of initiative style legislation like Measure B. Pied Pipers come and go, as do their causes, and while they may make it sound all so warm and fuzzy on the surface, the devil is in the details and always unintended consequences come back to bite you.
Measure B is rife with unintended consequences.
As written, Measure B will likely become an economic albatross around Sonoma’s neck. It will discourage future infrastructure investment and job creation in Sonoma’s hospitality industry. Measure B is essentially a ban on hotel development in Sonoma. The economic lifeblood of our town is based on the hospitality industry’s ability to attract tourists and maintain and improve its facilities as time demands. Measure B puts hotel and lodge owners into a financial straitjacket that limits their ability to thrive, increases room rates and promotes the retention of shoddy, worn hotel rooms.
Larry Barnett’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) was promoted as a means to limit urban sprawl and promote infill development in downtown Sonoma. The promise of the UGB was to swap urban sprawl for pedestrian-friendly downtown infill. Mr. Barnett’s Measure B reneges on this promise. The proposed Napa Street hotel, for example, is precisely the type of pedestrian-friendly, infill development encouraged by the UGB, Sonoma’s General Plan and its Development Code.
Importantly, this proposed project will be rigorously vetted by the very same community process that has severely limited hotel growth in our town over the past 15 years. Measure B wants to remove “community” from community process.